[LINK] Aussie TV network guilty of subliminal ads

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Wed Oct 15 11:14:51 EST 2008


Roger Clarke wrote:
> At 9:36 AM +1100 15/10/08, Stilgherrian wrote:
>   
>> And all this is based on the pseudo-science which imagines that just
>> because a message is brief it is somehow more compelling, which it
>> isn't -- or at least this hasn't been proven.
>>     
>
> I think Richard and Stil are both missing a key aspect of this.
>
> It's not the brevity that's the major concern;  it's the surreptitiousness.
>
> You know the bus is there, and the 'marketing messages' on it.  Ditto 
> the billboards, shop hoardings, shop windows, street signage
>
> The nature of 'subliminal' ads is that they're designed to be 
> undetectable by the conscious mind, and to reach directly to the 
> sub-conscious.
>
> Whether it's *effective* mind-manipulation / brain-washing / 
> insert-preferred-bugbear-here is open to plenty of debate.  (Although 
> presumably some corners of the experimental psych literature can shed 
> some light on that).
>
> But the practice is objectionable on the grounds of 
> surreptitiousness, whether or not it actually does any psychological 
> harm.
OK, I'll buy that...

However: my concern about the ACMA regulation (matched, I should add, by
a similar regulation by the FCC in the US, and I suppose other
regulations in other places) is this: it is based on what I would argue
is a form of "moral panic". There never was, as far as I am aware, any
*science* behind "subliminal advertising", only (a) complete fakery
(c.f. my earlier pointer to the Snopes article) or (b) pseudo-science (1).

Regulating on the basis that "even though this is nonsense, we need to
be seen to be doing something because the popular press is whipping up a
panic" is just what we're seeing in the government's filtering proposals.

And like so many regulations, in retrospect, when people look at a
regulation on the basis that it exists (and therefore must exist for a
reason), it's also a human habit to try and justify the regulation
post-facto.

If subliminal advertising regulation were evidence-based, there would be
none; and if Internet content regulation were similarly evidence-based,
we on Link would have far fewer concerns about what might transpire.

Richard C
(PS: It's not easy to determine when Australia first decided to ban
"subliminal advertising" ... any pointers?)


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